The Best Co-Op Games – July 2018
The joy of a good co-op game is…well, cooperation. But while many games offer some limited form of cooperation between teammates (see: most FPSes), games that are specifically co-op tend to focus much more on these elements. A co-op game makes cooperation more than just a strategic advantage- it becomes a key, unavoidable part of playing the game. These games are often two-player, and pit the players against non-human enemies, environments, and puzzles. There are a few exceptions out there, but this is what generally distinguishes a co-op game from, say, a team FPS or something of the sort.
Cuphead rocked the gaming world upon its release, thanks to its amazing graphics and hard-as-nails gameplay.
Cuphead’s graphics are entirely hand-animated in the classic stylings of 1930’s Fleischer animation, leading to legitimately nostalgic visuals. Meanwhile, its gameplay harkens back to classic 80s-era shoot-em-ups for the NES and SNES, including co-op gameplay, ruthless bosses and high difficulty. While the game is playable with a single player, the two-player experience is most recommended, especially due to the aforementioned high difficulty. Plus, what better bonding experience is there than pain?
Cuphead will challenge any player, but two players working together should be able to overcome any of this game’s challenges with enough effort. It won’t be easy- not by a long shot- but it will be a fulfilling and rewarding experience. For that reason, we’ve chosen Cuphead as our #1 pick.
Payday 2 is the sequel to Payday, but outshines it in every way with continued developer support, better graphics, better gameplay, and a truly ridiculous amount of gameplay depth. Payday 2 is playable with up to three other friends in four-player robberies, some of which are small-scale. Other robberies, meanwhile, can scale up to truly epic proportions, taking place in malls and running through entire city blocks. No matter what you’re doing, it’s important for everyone to stay on the same page in these co-op robberies, and work together to either escape the police when they arrive or pull off an entire heist undetected.
Featuring cameos from the likes of John Wick and Jacket (from Hotline Miami), Payday 2 is stuffed with personality and gameplay possibilities. For this reason, it comes highly recommended.
Don’t Starve Together is a standalone multiplayer expansion to the original Don’t Starve, a brutal single-player survival game. Don’t Starve Together offers all the great gameplay from the original game, but adds extra characters and multiplayer features to allow the world of the game and its brutal, complex systems to be enjoyed by multiple players at once. This turns a sometimes-oppressive single-player survival game into a hard-but-fair co-op multiplayer game, where it’s you and your friends working to survive against the brutal environment.
Don’t Starve Together is a stellar experience for the money, and should provide a lot of fun for the whole group, as long as they know what they’re doing.
The original Portal was a relatively low-budget game, launched alongside Team Fortress 2 in the Orange Box, that earned critical acclaim. In the years following, it quickly received a high-budget sequel in Portal 2, which offered a longer/better single-player campaign…and a great multiplayer campaign, too!
Portal 2’s multiplayer game functions similarly enough to the main game. For those not familiar with the Portal games, Portal is a first-person puzzle shooter, wherein you use a Portal Gun to solve different puzzles. The Portal Gun can fire 2 active portals at a time, which can then be used to travel through or move other objects through. With two players, the amount of portals and the complexity of the puzzles essentially doubles, requiring great coordination from both parties in order to make it through. Through the Steam Workshop on the PC version of the game, Portal 2 also offers community-made levels, making the game effectively endless!
Left 4 Dead 2 is the oldest title on this list, but still a classic that’s tons of fun to play. Its main campaign is a four-player survival mode, where players work together to find resources and fight off a variety of zombies through massive maps. It’s genuinely really fun, and pretty easy to pick up- while it may take some experience to figure out optimal strategies or how certain zombies work, the basics are obvious and instinctual. There’s a ton of zombies and limited resources: your only real options are to kill them or escape. This will come naturally to anyone who plays this game.
In addition to the co-op mode, there’s also a 4 v 4 mode where one team controls the human players as before and the other team controls powerful zombies with different abilities, hunting down the human players. This is still primarily a co-op experience, but this game mode does offer some great variety to the experience.
If you’re interested in the original Left 4 Dead, don’t worry. Left 4 Dead 2 has all of the original game’s content, in addition to its own. The best experience is, far and away, the original Left 4 Dead.
Lovers in a Dangerous Spacetime is an indie game, playable by up to 4 players. In Lovers, your goal is to build and control a huge spaceship while you travel through the galaxy…with the catch that all 4 players control different parts of the ship, requiring teamwork and coordination to move in the right direction, navigate through obstacles and defeat the enemies in your way.
It’s pretty simple- and may not be worth the full $15 asking price unless you already have 3 friends on hand- but is genuinely fun. Plus, you can get it for $6 or less during a Steam sale…
Last on our list is Destiny 2.
Make no mistake: Destiny 2 is a pretty good game, but it’s also by far the most expensive title on this list. Additionally, it still features a lot of microtransactions and expensive DLC packs- while the core gameplay loop of Destiny 2 is definitely enjoyable, its monetization scheme is egregious enough for it to drop a few places on this list.
Destiny 2 is still a great game to play with friends, though. Forming parties to take on raids and level grind together is as fun in Destiny 2 as it is in any MMORPG, and the fact it’s a shooter might even elevate that.
But the price of entry, at a whopping $60 per person…that’s a problem.